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PARENTING The Train Analogy That Will Completely Change How You See Your Crying Child

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Photo Source: Pick Any Two

By- Katie M. McLaughlin

http://pickanytwo.net/the-train-analogy-that-will-change-how-you-see-your-crying-child/

My 4-year-old was climbing into bed, his face turned away from me and toward the wall, when he asked the question.

“Where’s Glenn?”

His tone made the question sound like an afterthought, but I know better. Glenn is the opposite of an afterthought; he’s the tiger lovey blanket my son has been carting around with him since he was old enough to maintain a tight grasp. 

    The Train Analogy That Will Completely Change the Way You See Your Crying Child

My husband offered to head back downstairs to search, and I absently commented that I actually hadn’t seen Glenn around that evening, which was unusual.

At that, my son slowly turned around to face me but without making eye contact, his mind racing. His eyes were fixed on some background point as his mouth twisted and turned with each darting thought. They met mine only as he realized it, his shoulders straightening and his back growing taller as the panic scaled him. 

Finally, the shout: “I left Glenn in the back of Gigi’s car!!!”


Gigi, of course, was one state away by this point, which means we were facing my son’s first night since he was an infant—the first night ever in his little memory—without Glenn curled up in the crook of his arm.

Oh, sure, we’d lost Glenn before, but he’d always been found before bedtime, even if sometimes it required what felt like hours of searching. And then there was the time my son held him out the car window and accidentally let go, so Glenn spent a bit of time playing chicken on the yellow lines of a busy street. 

But still, there had never been a bedtime without Glenn.

The initial shock was, of course, followed by electric currents of anger that coursed through my son’s little body. He punched the air and gritted his teeth and screamed, “I WILL NOT SLEEP WITHOUT GLENN! I WILL NOT GO TO BED UNTIL HE’S HERE! I WILL NOT GO TO BED EVER AGAIN!” More punching, more gritting, a few angry flops onto the floor. 

At this point my husband had returned from his futile search, and was looking at me for direction. How are we handling this one, mama? 

I don’t know if the look I shot back reflected confidence, wisdom, and clarity, but believe it or not, that’s what I felt.

Because right when I needed it most, I remembered the train analogy.

The Life-Changing Train Analogy 

The analogy was nothing new, something I’d learned in my own therapy years before I had kids and something we’ve all heard in the form of an overused cliche. Truthfully, I’d always struggled to apply it to my own rush of emotions, but here, with my poor child flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water, it seemed like the only reasonable response.

The analogy goes like this:

Difficult feelings are tunnels, and we are trains traveling through them. 

We have to move all the way through the darkness to get to the—you knew this was coming!—calm, peaceful light at the end of the tunnel.

It sounds simple, but it’s way easier said than done.

Where Well-Meaning Parents Go Wrong

The problem is that we well-meaning parents and caregivers often attempt to intercept our children on their journey through an emotional tunnel.

For example, watching my son wrestle with his anger and sadness and fear at not having his lovey, I could easily have said:

It’s only one night. We’ll get him back tomorrow.

We have so many other stuffed animals, just sleep with one of them tonight.

You’ll be fine, I promise.

Those would all have been true statements, not doubt, but they would not have been helpful ones.

So often when our kids are struggling with a difficult feeling—sadness, anger, fear, embarrassment, loneliness, guilt—we try to logic them out of it. We explain why they’re overreacting, or how WE know it will turn out just fine in the end.

We’re trying to help our children, of course, but if we peel back the layers a bit, I think we’ll find that what we’re really doing is trying to make OURSELVES feel better. Because our children’s pain hurts US so deeply, makes US so acutely uncomfortable. 

We’re the ones who want their crying to stop as quickly as possible—not them. 

Back to the analogy: If emotions are tunnels and we are trains going through them, then we NEED to keep moving all the way through to the other side. 

What we adults often do when facing our own emotional struggles is attempt to get out of the tunnel early—banging on the sides, ignoring the cavernous echo, and wondering with confusion why we can’t see daylight yet.

Sometimes we squat in the darkness, close our eyes, and just pretend we’re not in a tunnel at all. Everything is just fine, thank you very much.

Sometimes we do a whole host of other things—eat ice cream, drink wine, shop online, run marathons, binge watch Netflix, play games on our phones or scroll mindlessly through Facebook—to distract ourselves from the fact that we’re in a tunnel in the first place.

But none of those things gets us out of the tunnel, does it? 

Then, when we FINALLY let ourselves scream and wail and bang our fists and crumble onto the floor and have a good cry, we suddenly feel so. much. better. 

Same goes for our kids. We can’t teach them there’s some secret side exit when there’s really not. There is no way out except through, and it’s our job to guide them there. 

That’s why I didn’t say a word to my son. Instead, I just sat next to him as the ripples of anger melted into shaking and sobbing. When I thought it was OK to do so, I started rubbing his back—still without speaking. He kept crying and crying and crying. 

As those tears flowed, I realized I had just done what Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate call “dancing our children to their tears.” In their book Hold On to Your Kids they write:

“…a parent must dance the child to his tears, to letting go, and to the sense of rest that comes in the wake of letting go…[a parent must] come alongside the child’s experience of frustration and provide comfort. The agenda should not be to teach a lesson but to move frustration to sadness…Much more important than our words is the child’s sense that we are with her, not against her.” 

With that in mind, I was actually delighted that my son was shaking with sobs because I knew that meant he was traveling through this emotional tunnel rather than getting stuck in it.

He cried and he cried and he cried.

Until he wasn’t crying anymore. 

Until, from his vantage point splayed out on the floor, he caught a glimpse of a nearby book about world-recording-holding dogs, pulled it over, and started paging through it. As if nothing had happened at all. 

I peeked at the clock. It had been eight minutes. 

Building Resilience

I decided speaking would be OK now, so I asked my son if he wanted to make a plan. I told him I knew that bedtime tonight would be extra tough, but maybe we could think of some ideas together to help him through it. 

(Had I suggested such a thing two minutes prior, he would have EXPLODED. But because I waited until his train was through this tunnel, it was fine.) 

Without any additional prompting from me, my 4-year-old chose two different stuffed animals to sleep with that night, then asked if we could read two extra books before bed to help make the evening more special. 

Later, as I kissed him goodnight and he turned onto his side to fall asleep, he said peacefully, “I’m going to be OK tonight.” 

Yes, dear son, you are.

Because this is where resilience is built.

Had I driven an hour each way to retrieve Glenn, we wouldn’t have built resilience. 

Had I told him over and over again it was no big deal, it’s just one night without one stuffed animal, we wouldn’t have built resilience either. The message there would have been that his pain was invalid and that his struggles weren’t worth being taken seriously.

But simply sitting by his side as bumped his way through the tunnel? Allowing him to feel the rush and the panic, and then come up for air all on his own? THAT is building resilience.

Remember Your Job

So the next time your child is deeply frustrated, angry, or upset, remember what the job of a parent really is.

The job of a parent is to:

  • Provide comfort through the frustration.
  • Draw out our child’s cleansing tears.
  • Show empathy to our child’s struggle.
  • Allow the life lesson to be learned naturally—not through preaching.
  • Support our child’s journey through the emotional tunnel.

The job of a parent is NOT to get our child to stop crying as quickly as possible. Tears are a sign of parental success, not failure.

So rub your child’s back. Sit with them in silence. Stay alongside them as they chug chug chug through their tunnels of feelings. And be with them when they finally reach the calm, peaceful light at the end.

References

Building resilience among kids.
posted Sep 20 by Gowri Vimalan

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And if you never liked scientific subjects as a student, it can be hard to inspire enthusiasm for them in your children. However, teacher, author and education consultant Maya Thiagarajan has now revealed how parents can raise their children to love maths even if they themselves don't: “First, I think that parents should refrain from making statements like `I never liked maths', or `I'm not good at maths', in front of their kids,“ she told `Smart Parenting'.

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“They play maths games in the car or at the dinner table,“ Thiagarajan says, and gives examples such as “guess the number, solve the mathematical riddle, add up the numbers on license plates as quickly as possible, calculate distance traveled.“ According to Thiagarajan, these successful parents also encourage their children to play maths-related games. “They teach their kids chess. They spend money and time on Lego sets, building blocks, tangrams, jigsaw puzzles, and board games,“ she says. “When they take their kids to the grocery store, they talk maths. If one apple costs $0.80, how much will six apples cost?“ They're simple changes that could make a huge difference to your child's life.

Rachel Hosie

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Photo Source: washingtonpost.com

By Valerie Strauss

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/24/how-twisted-early-childhood-education-has-become-from-a-child-development-expert/?utm_term=.e5c53c678eec

Nancy Carlsson-Paige is an early childhood development expert who has been at the forefront of the debate on how best to educate — and not educate — the youngest students. She is a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma., where she taught teachers for more than 30 years and was a founder of the university’s Center for Peaceable Schools. She is also a founding member of a nonprofit called Defending the Early Years, which commissions research about early childhood education and advocates for sane policies for young children.

Carlsson-Paige is author of “Taking Back Childhood.” The mother of two artist sons, Matt and Kyle Damon, she is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Legacy Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps for work over several decades on behalf of children and families. She was just given the Deborah Meier award by the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

In her speech accepting the award (named after the renowned educator Deborah Meier), Carlsson-Paige describes what has happened in the world of early childhood education in the current era of high-stakes testing, saying, “Never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.” Here’s the speech, which I am publishing with permission:

 

 Thank you FairTest for this Deborah Meier Hero in Education Award. FairTest does such great advocacy and education around fair and just testing practices. This award carries the name of one of my heroes in education, Deborah Meier—she’s a force for justice and democracy in education. I hope that every time this award is given, it will allow us to once again pay tribute to Deb. Also, I feel privileged to be accepting this honor alongside Lani Guinier.

When I was invited to be here tonight, I thought about the many people who work for justice and equity in education who could also be standing here. So I am thinking of all of them now and I accept this award on their behalf — all the educators dedicated to children and what’s fair and best for them.

It’s wonderful to see all of you here — so many family and friends, comrades in this struggle to reclaim excellent public education for all – not just some – of our children.

I have loved my life’s work – teaching teachers about how young children think, how they learn, how they develop socially, emotionally, morally. I’ve been fascinated with the theories and science of my field and seeing it expressed in the actions and the play of children.

So never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.

Where education policies that do not reflect what we know about how young children learn could be mandated and followed. We have decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tell us that young children learn actively — they have to move, use their senses, get their hands on things, interact with other kids and teachers, create, invent. But in this twisted time, young children starting public pre-K at the age of 4 are expected to learn through “rigorous instruction.”

And never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that we would have to defend children’s right to play.

Play is the primary engine of human growth; it’s universal – as much as walking and talking. Play is the way children build ideas and how they make sense of their experience and feel safe. Just look at all the math concepts at work in the intricate buildings of kindergartners. Or watch a 4-year-old put on a cape and pretend to be a superhero after witnessing some scary event.

But play is disappearing from classrooms. Even though we know play is learning for young kids, we are seeing it shoved aside to make room for academic instruction and “rigor.”

I could not have foreseen in my wildest dreams that we would have to fight for classrooms for young kids that are developmentally appropriate. Instead of active, hands-on learning, children now sit in chairs for far too much time getting drilled on letters and numbers. Stress levels are up among young kids. Parents and teachers tell me: children worry that they don’t know the right answers; they have nightmares, they pull out their eyelashes, they cry because they don’t want to go to school. Some people call this child abuse and I can’t disagree.

I could not have foreseen in my wildest dreams that we would be up against pressure to test and assess young kids throughout the year often in great excess — often administering multiple tests to children in kindergarten and even pre-K. Now, when young children start school, they often spend their first days not getting to know their classroom and making friends. They spend their first days getting tested. Here are words from one mother as this school year began:

“My daughter’s first day of kindergarten — her very first introduction to elementary school — consisted almost entirely of assessment. She was due at school at 9:30, and I picked her up at 11:45. In between, she was assessed by five different teachers, each a stranger, asking her to perform some task.

“By the time I picked her up, she did not want to talk about what she had done in school, but she did say that she did not want to go back. She did not know the teachers’ names. She did not make any friends. Later that afternoon, as she played with her animals in her room, I overheard her drilling them on their numbers and letters.”

The most important competencies in young children can’t be tested—we all know this. Naming letters and numbers is superficial and almost irrelevant in relation to the capacities we want to help children develop: self-regulation, problem solving ability, social and emotional competence, imagination, initiative, curiosity, original thinking — these capacities make or break success in school and life and they can’t be reduced to numbers.

Yet these days, all the money and resources, the time dedicated to professional development, they go to tooling teachers up to use the required assessments. Somehow the data gleaned from these tests is supposed to be more valid than a teacher’s own ability to observe children and understand their skills in the context of their whole development in the classroom.

The first time I saw for myself what was becoming of many of the nation’s early childhood classrooms was when I visited a program in a low-income community in north Miami. Most of the children were on free- and reduced-price lunch.

There were 10 classrooms – kindergarten and pre-K. The program’s funding depended on test scores, so — no surprise — teachers taught to the test. Kids who got low scores, I was told, got extra drills in reading and math and didn’t get to go to art. They used a computer program to teach 4- and 5-year-olds how to “bubble.” One teacher complained to me that some children go outside the lines.

In one of the kindergartens I visited, the walls were barren and so was the whole room. The teacher was testing one little boy at a computer at the side of the room. There was no classroom aide. The other children were sitting at tables copying words from the chalk board. The words were: “No talking. Sit in your seat. Hands to Yourself.”

The teacher kept shouting at them from her testing corner: Be quiet! No talking!

Most of the children looked scared or disengaged, and one little boy was sitting alone. He was quietly crying. I will never forget how these children looked or how it felt to watch them, I would say, suffering in this context that was such a profound mismatch with their needs.

It’s in low-income, under-resourced communities like this one where children are most subjected to heavy doses of teacher-led drills and tests. Not like in wealthier suburbs where kids have the opportunity to go to early childhood programs that have play, the arts, and project-based learning. It’s poverty — the elephant in the room — that is the root cause of this disparity.

A few months ago, I was alarmed to read a report from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights showing that more than 8,000 children from public preschools across the country were suspended at least once in a school year, many more than once. First of all, who suspends a preschooler? Why and for what? The very concept is bizarre and awful. But 8,000? And then to keep reading the report to see that a disproportionate number of those suspended preschoolers were low income, black boys.

There is a connection, I know, between these suspensions and ed reform policies: Children in low-income communities are enduring play deficient classrooms where they get heavy doses of direct teaching and testing. They have to sit still, be quiet in their seats and comply. Many young children can’t do this and none should have to.

I came home from that visit to the classrooms in North Miami in despair. But fortunately, the despair turned quickly to organizing. With other educators we started our nonprofit Defending the Early Years. We have terrific early childhood leaders with us (some are here tonight: Deb Meier, Geralyn McLaughlin, Diane Levin and Ayla Gavins). We speak in a unified voice for young children.

We publish reports, write op eds, make videos and send them out on YouTube, we speak and do interviews every chance we get.

We’ve done it all on a shoestring. It’s almost comical: The Gates Foundation has spent more than $200 million just to promote the Common Core. Our budget at Defending the Early Years is .006 percent of that.

We collaborate with other organizations. FairTest has been so helpful to us. And we also collaborate with –Network for Public Education, United Opt Out, many parent groups, Citizens for Public Schools, Badass Teachers, Busted Pencils Radio, Save Our Schools, Alliance for Childhood and ECE PolicyWorks —There’s a powerful network out there – of educators, parents and students — and we see the difference we are making.

We all share a common vision: Education is a human right and every child deserves one. An excellent, free education where learning is meaningful – with arts, play, engaging projects, and the chance to learn citizenship skills so that children can one day participate — actively and consciously – in this increasingly fragile democracy.

 

+1 vote

        

Photo Source: World Economic Forum

By- Teresa Belton

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/being-bored-is-good-for-children-and-adults-this-is-why?utm_content=bufferb8f6b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

From books, arts and sports classes to iPads and television, many parents do everything in their power to entertain and educate their children. But what would happen if children were just left to be bored from time to time? How would it affect their development?

I began to think about boredom and children when I was researching the influence of television on children’s storytelling in the 1990s. Surprised at the lack of imagination in many of the hundreds of stories I read by ten to 12 year-old children in five different Norfolk schools, I wondered if this might partly be an effect of TV viewing. Findings of earlier research had revealed that television does indeed reduce children’s imaginative capacities.

For instance, a large scale study carried out in Canada in the 1980s as television was gradually being extended across the country, compared children in three communities – one which had four TV channels, one with one channel and one with none. The researchers studied these communities on two occasions, just before one of the towns obtained television for the first time, and again two years later. The children in the no-TV town scored significantly higher than the others on divergent thinking skills, a measure of imaginativeness. This was until they, too, got TV – when their skills dropped to the same level as that of the other children.

The apparent stifling effect of watching TV on imagination is a concern, as imagination is important. Not only does it enrich personal experience, it is also necessary for empathy – imagining ourselves in someone else’s shoes – and is indispensable in creating change. The significance of boredom here is that children (indeed adults too) often fall back on television or – these days – a digital device, to keep boredom at bay.

Some years after my study, I began to notice certain creative professionals mentioning how important boredom was to their creativity, both in childhood and now. I interviewed some of them. One was writer and actress Meera Syal. She related how she had occupied school holidays staring out of the window at the rural landscape, and doing various things outside her “usual sphere”, like learning to bake cakes with the old lady next door. Boredom also made her write a diary, and it is to this that she attributes her writing career. “It’s very freeing, being creative for no other reason than that you freewheel and fill time,” she said.

Similarly, well-known neuroscientist Susan Greenfield said she had little to do as a child and spent much time drawing and writing stories. These became the precursors of her later work, the scientific study of human behaviour. She still chooses paper and pen over a laptop on a plane, and looks forward with relish to these constrained times.

Sporting, musical and other organised activities can certainly benefit a child’s physical, cognitive, cultural and social development. But children also need time to themselves – to switch off from the bombardment of the outside world, to daydream, pursue their own thoughts and occupations, and discover personal interests and gifts.

We don’t have to have a particular creative talent or intellectual bent to benefit from boredom. Just letting the mind wander from time to time is important, it seems, for everybody’s mental wellbeing and functioning. A study has even shown that, if we engage in some low-key, undemanding activity at same time, the wandering mind is more likely to come up with imaginative ideas and solutions to problems. So it’s good for children to be helped to learn to enjoy just pottering – and not to grow up with the expectation that they should be constantly on the go or entertained.

How to handle a bored child

Parents often feel guilty if children complain of boredom. But it’s actually more constructive to see boredom as an opportunity rather than a deficit. Parents do have a role, but rushing in with ready-made solutions is not helpful. Rather, children need the adults around them to understand that creating their own pastimes requires space, time and the possibility of making a mess (within limits – and to be cleared up afterwards by the children themselves).

They will need some materials too, but these need not be sophisticated – simple things are often more versatile. We’ve all heard of the toddler ignoring the expensive present and playing with the box it came in instead. For older children, a magnifying glass, some planks of wood, a basket of wool, and so on, might be the start of many happily occupied hours.

But to get the most benefit from times of potential boredom, indeed from life in general, children also need inner resources as well as material ones. Qualities such as curiosity, perseverance, playfulness, interest and confidence allow them to explore, create and develop powers of inventiveness, observation and concentration. These also help them to learn not to be deterred if something doesn’t work the first time, and try again. By encouraging the development of such capacities, parents offer children something of lifelong value.

If a child has run out of ideas, giving them some kind of challenge can prompt them to continue to amuse themselves imaginatively. This could range from asking them to find out what kind of food their toy dinosaurs enjoy in the garden to going off and creating a picture story with some friends and a digital camera.

Most parents would agree that they want to raise self-reliant individuals who can take initiatives and think for themselves. But filling a child’s time for them teaches nothing but dependence on external stimulus, whether material possessions or entertainment. Providing nurturing conditions and trusting children’s natural inclination to engage their minds is far more likely to produce independent, competent children, full of ideas.

+1 vote

       

Photo Source: mycity4kids

By Niharika Ghosh

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/article/6-little-behavior-problems-you-shouldnt-ignore

One of the biggest challenges parents face is managing difficult or defiant behaviour on the part of children. Whether they’re refusing to put on their shoes, or throwing full-blown tantrums, you can find yourself at a loss for an effective way to respond. Overall, parents have a lot on their plates, and sometimes that can lead to them making some important oversights. Obviously, moms and dads aren’t expected to study or analyse every little thing their children do, but there a quite a number of little conduct problems that should never go unnoticed, as they can be troublesome in the long run.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at 6 of these minor problems that parents can’t afford to ignore, and how to address them properly:

1. Not Seeking Permission

It doesn’t take long for children to start preparing snacks on their own, rather than asking for help getting them. However, giving them control of when they can eat or perform certain activities does not help teach them to follow the rules. It is best to have an established set of rules for the household, instead of letting your child behave as he pleases. This gives him a constant set of rules to follow and adjust to, as opposed to teaching him to make the rules for himself.

2. Stretching the Truth

If your child over-exaggerates or lies about something that does not matter, it may not seem like a big deal. But, lying easily becomes a habit that kids often turn to in order to get out of chores or trouble. If your child lies about something, make sure you let him know that it is important to tell the truth.

To fix this behaviour, try to set the record with your kids whenever applicable. Sit them down, and tell them that you know the truth, and that they should just admit the truth. Be sure to teach lessons like short stories or fables in order to let them know that if they develop a tendency to lie, people won’t believe them. Kids will likely slow down on exaggerating if they realize that it is not as harmless as it seems.

3. Showing some attitude

When children show their parents a little bit of attitude or arrogance, they’re basically displaying a small lack of authority towards you and possibly other authority figures. You may think your child is mimicking you, rolling their eyes, or answering back at you is simply a phase, but if you don’t address it as soon as possible, this attitude could soon develop into a long-term trait. Some parents ignore it because they think it’s a passing phase, but if you don’t confront it, you may find yourself with a disrespectful teenager who has a hard time making and keeping friends and getting along with teachers and other adults.

A great way to counteract this behaviour is to deny your children a reaction from such behaviour. If they, for example, try to copy you when you tell them to do something, you can walk away. Or, you can tell them something along the lines of, “I can’t hear you when you talk that way. Why don’t you say something more constructive if you want a response?”

4. Interrupting you when you’re talking

Even if your child is just ignoring you because they’re excited to tell others something, parents should ignore it when their children interrupt them. By allowing your child to develop the habit of interrupting you, you’re nurturing a habit that teaches them it’s okay to be inconsiderate of others. Later on it may be possible that your child thinks that he is entitled to other people’s attention and won’t be able to tolerate frustration.

If you find your child interrupting you at any point and time, be sure to let them know that they must wait their turn to speak. Tell them that you were not done speaking and that it’s rude to not let you finish. Be sure to let them know that interrupting you won’t get them anywhere and that you will not accept such behaviour.

5. Playing Rough

Children are bound to play slightly aggressively or get a little out of hand at times. However, there is still a limit with how rough parents should let them play. Furthermore, if their children are playing too roughly, they should step in and not ignore such behaviour. It can lead to bad habits, and to more aggressive behaviour. If intervention is not done, then it may become a full fledged habit by the age of 8 or 9 years. Also, it sends a message that hurting people is acceptable.

Whenever you see your children displaying aggressive, rough behaviour, you should aim to stop them immediately. Tell them the importance of treating others the way you’d want to be treated. Also, make sure they know that playing roughly is not acceptable and it can lead to them hurting others.

6. Ignoring what you say

If you find yourself repeating yourself as a result of your child pretending that he can’t hear you, don’t let them get away with ignoring you. In the long run, what you’re supporting is the idea that it’s okay to disregard your commands or wishes. Ignoring you may be a game of power but if you allow the behaviour to continue, he is likely to become more defiant and dominating.

If your child is ignoring you as you give them a command from a slight distance, try walking to them and directly confront them. Also, demand more eye contact when you’re talking to them in order to ensure that what you say is being heard and understood. If they still refuse to listen, offer a consequence for their misbehaviour.

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